Wednesday, November 14, 2018

How Do You Make Peace?

There seems to be no limit to conflicts these days. So in order to make the world a better place we each need to address conflict with peacemaking. Bringing peace into your own life is a beginning. Bringing peace into your community, your country, and your world can follow.

For a moment, consider where there is conflict in your life. What do you struggle against? What causes you anger? What creates emotional pain? What are these conflicts about? Can you find a way to resolve them with less conflict?

Consider if they are really problems you can do something about. If there is nothing in the problem you can change, maybe the change has to be in you? Can you forgive? Can you let go? Can you accept that the problem isn't yours?

An important part of resolving problems/conflicts is compromise. Examine ways you might compromise to bring about the peace you need. In most conflict there is a common ground that both parties can find when emotions are calmed and reason reigns. Dedicate yourself to finding that place where both can agree on something and work from there.

Addressing wider conflicts will require joing with others who are willing to work for peaceful resolution. It will also mean you must look at your own role in the conflict and to withdraw from combative dialog and behavior. Peaceful resolution follows peaceful behavior. All too often we get caught up in the "anti-" whatever and fail to find the "pro" elements. Work to find positive ways to address conflicts. Rathere than be anti-war, for instance, be pro-peace. Explore the diffference. "Anti_" is still fighting.

Stand for peace by loving all. I may not agree with you. I may not even like you. But I can love you as a human being and want to do what is right for all concerned. Do the difficult work to find what that is in each situation.

What might you do today to make peace?

Sunday, November 11, 2018

How Do You Love?

Love is an action verb. That means something must happen for the verb if you use it appropriately. Yes, love is a noun, too. But in verb form it must have an action. So how do YOU love?

It is an important question to explore. When you say you love something or someone, what do you actually do? Do you just feel all warm and fuzzy when you think of them or are with them? If that is the case, is it really loving them or loving the feeling you are having?

When you love your mate/spouse your behavior toward them will be caring, nurturing. You will do things they want. You will enjoy being with them and tell them so. You will communicate by word and deed your caring.

When you love your child, or any child, you will take care that they are safe and well. You will not do them harm, at least not intentionally. You will do things that provide safety, nurture, fun.

When you love your pet you will treat them, in many ways, as you do a child. You will see to their wellbeing, see that they have their needs met. You will be sure they are safe, they are sheltered, they are fed, they have clean water, they get exercise.

When you love your country you will take care of it as well.

What have you done that defines your love? We are coming through a very difficult time in our country. There is division, fesr, anger, even violence against others. None of these things are love.

Let's make love. No, not sex. Let's provide safety and wellbeing in our country for all people. Actually, if you want to make the world better, let's love the world.

Wednesday, November 7, 2018

It Is Time to Be Nice!

O.K. The election is over. We can quit arguing with each other. It is time for us to be nice. That is how we can make the world a better place.

And if you have forgotten how to do that, here's Kid President on YouTube to explain how:

Now, let's go out there and be nice.

Sunday, November 4, 2018

Are You Ready?

Have you explored your options? Have you found a choice you feel good about, or at least don't feel bad about? Are your ready to vote Tuesday?

I urge you to vote. It is your voice amplified by others that can be heard. Don't give up on our democracy. Practice it, protect it by voting.

We've voted early, many people have. It is a convenience for us, as we can choose the day and time that works for us. And the lines were not so long as at the precinct voting places. Don't know if that was a possiblity for you.

But do vote. As a citizen it is our duty. And the privelege was hard won. When we fail to use it we disappoint all those who have worked so hard, given so much, some have given their lives for us to have the right.

Let me know if you did it. Did you vote?

Wednesday, October 31, 2018

Will the World Know You Were Here?

What mark are you leaving on the world? Have you made much of a difference? What kind of difference is it? Are you satisfied with that mark? Or are you still working toward that mark?

At my age I often contemplate my mark on the world. I'd say my mark is mostly positive because I have worked toward that. It is my ultimate goal. But I haven't always considered that. I guess because I am closer to death than to birth, by a long margin, it is something I'm more aware of. I do, though, wonder if otheres think about the mark they will leave on the world.

Depending on your age, I suppose, you may or may not often think of your death. And I don't mean that I dwell on how or when I will die. But I do think about what I will leave behind. Have I said or done something that impacted someone enough to change their life in a positive way?

I think I probably have. I worked as a mental health counselor in the State prison system and have had many meaningful exchanges with men who have lost their way. I have seen then look at themselves in a new way. I have seen them change what they believe. It has been heartening for me to know that sometimes I have made a difference in their lives.

I have done a lot of volunteer work and helped many causes through church and civic groups. While that work is usually another degree of separation, not so much individual to individual, I know that it has made a difference in some lives. I led programs to build houses in Haiti after it was devastated, to replace firefighter equipment after Hurricane wiped out a station house on the East Coast, to make dresses and shorts for children in Africa and Honduras, to help elderly poor in our city to clear their yards to avoid city violations, to provide new Christmas gifts to 200 unsheltered homeless in our city. Most of all those folks never knew my name and all of that brings me joy.

Obviously my children and grandchildren have been part of me trying to be a good role model. They have made their mark on me, that's for sure. And I hope my being in their world has made it better somehow.

What about you? Will the world know you were here? What mark have you made on the world? Please share.

Sunday, October 28, 2018

Characteristics of a Good Leader

Most good leaders leverage at least some of these characteristics.

  • Honesty: “As a small businessperson, you have no greater leverage than the truth.” - John Whittier 
It is important to stick to the truth so that you have less to remember! Seriously, though, trust is important. Without trust your leadership will be weak and people will not follow for long, especially after they see your dishonesty.

  • Ability to delegate: “Individuals play the game, but teams beat the odds.” - SEAL Team saying 
You are not really leading if you try to do everything yourself. You want people to participate in achieving your goal, and to do that they will need to have a role in the process. Delegate others to take on some responsibility.

  • Communication:   “When people talk, listen completely. Most people never listen.” - Ernest Hemingway
Good communication is vital for a leader. You must be able to listen to all those concerned in your process. It will help you make the best choices.

  • Sense of humor: “A true leader always keeps an element of surprise up his sleeve, which others cannot grasp but which keeps his public excited and breathless.” - Charles de Gaulle
A sense of humor will keep you sane. There will always be "bumps in the road" and keeping your mood light will help your followers to endure the bumps as well as celebrate the successes. And, as de Gaulle said, you want to keep some surprises to keep folks excited about the work.

  • Confidence: “When you’re finished changing, you’re finished.” - Ben Franklin 
Have confidence in yourself and in your goals. Be confident about the changes you are creating. And trust yourself to know when you are finished. There may or may not be a "finish" to chaning the world to make it better. But be aware of what is needed and confidently lead on.

  • Commitment: “The only way to do great work is to love the work you do.” - Steve Jobs
To be a truly effective leader you need to be in it for the long haul. Your commitment must be based on your compassion for the goal. You must love what you do, even when it gets hard or messy, to make a lasting difference.

  • Positive attitude: “I had no idea that being your authentic self could make me as rich as I’ve become. If I had, I’d have done it a lot earlier.” - Oprah Winfrey
Believe in yourself and in the goal that you are working for. Believe in your plan and your process. Even when things seem to be getting nowhere, believe that you can make a positive difference. Always see the glass as half full with faith that you can add enough to fill the glass and reach your goal.

  • Creativity: “Life is 10% what happens to you and 90% how you react to it.” - Charles Swindoll 
Life happens. It brings challenges. And as leader it is up to you to come up with solutions to problems. Creative problem solving will get you through the challenges. This is when you need to listen to others and to delegate where appropriate. Problem solving is an intagral part of leadership.

  • Ability to inspire:  “Storytelling is the most powerful way to put ideas into the world today.” - Robert McAfee
Folks will be inspired by your attitude and your story of why your goal is something you are passionate about. Gather stories from others as well. Bring ideas to life in stories.

  • Intuition: “Less isn’t more; just enough is more.” - Milton Glaser 
Your intuition will guide you if you learn to listen to it and have confidence in it. the human brain is amazing. And intuition is part of that amazing organ. When you "just know" something, go with it. As you exercise intuition it will strengthen and lead you in what comes next. Know when you have enough.

  • Above all else, treat others as you’d like to be treated: “I would maintain that thanks are the highest form of thought, and that gratitude is happiness doubled by wonder.” - Gilbert Chesterton 
People like to be appreciated. Express your gratitude generously. Make your expression specific and honest. You will gain trust and faithful followers.

Wednesday, October 24, 2018

To Make the World a Better Place, Be a Leader!

There are many definitions of "leader". But not all of them fit if you are wanting to create real change, positive change. One definition is that a leader is someone who has followers. Broad and literal and doesn't involve a plan and a goal. You can call fans "followers", but  having fans doesn't give the fan any power or plan to follow to achieve a positive goal.
You may be a "fan" of social justice or of saving the environment. But until you influence others to act toward achieving those goals, not a whole lot will change, at lease as a result of your concern.
So what does it mean to lead? What is leadership? According to Kevin Kruse*, creator of an eLearning program for managers, and author of Employee Engagement 2.0, it is "the process of social influence, which maximizes the efforts of others, towards the achievement of a goal."
He points out that the key elements of this definition are:
  • Leadership stems from social influence, not authority or power
  • Leadership requires others, and that implies they don’t need to be “direct reports”
  • No mention of personality traits, attributes, or even a title; there are many styles, many paths, to effective leadership
  • It includes a goal, not influence with no intended outcome
Does this sound to lofty an ideal for you? It's not really. You can use it to achieve even less lofty, more mundane goals. You probably use it every day to achieve family goals or community goals. The idea here is to use it to achieve goals that make the world better, even the world where you live and work.

Identify your goal and determine who and how you want to work toward the goal with you. It doesn't matter what style of leadership that fits you. The important thing is the goal.

In my next post I'll look at what makes a good leader.

*Kevin Kruse is the creator of the Leading for Employee Engagement eLearning program for managers. and author of the bestselling book, Employee Engagement 2.0.